Dr. Evonne Thompson has recently released a powerful book called, Can You Sleep Like This? In the Rest of God, that is so needed in our restless times. Thompson was a busy CPA working in the corporate world for Fortune 200 clients, flying cross country and internationally, sometimes working 70 hours a week, and also trying to balance ministry and church and family in her overfull schedule.
That is when the Lord began to teach her about the need for REST and balance. In her much needed book, Can You Sleep like this? In the Rest of God, Dr. Evonne shares well researched biblical principles, personal stories and practical tools and tips to incorporate rest, better sleep, and balance back into our lives. Dr. Evonne, holds a Masters from Regent University and has her Doctorate in Theology.
Q: Evonne, thank you for doing this interview with us. Let's start with yourself: tell us a little about yourself and your current ministry.
I am an author, speaker, and teacher who believes in encouraging people to live exceptionally in the rest of God. I am bi-vocational: a Certified Public Accountant and MBA graduate from Regent University, but hold also a MA in theology with a doctorate from United Theological Seminary. I launched ELICI last year which combines my gifts as a consultant and Fortune 200 professional with faith and ministry. ELICI offers resources and events focused on empowerment and outreach in underrepresented communities in Chicago.
I live in the Chicago, Illinois area, where I am passionate about local church efforts and volunteering where I serve on the Women's Board of the Chicago Urban League, and the Executive Council for United Way of Metro Chicago's Women United. I love God, prayer, worship, family, friendship, fellowship, and laughter. When I'm living exceptionally in balance and rest--I enjoy traveling, hiking, reading-and a favorite dessert.
Q: Why did you decide to write a book on rest?
I worked as a director and consultant in corporate America, whilst juggling family and extensive ministry work in my local church--I know first hand the hustle, bustle, and often stressful environments many people endure. I begin to study and learn Biblical principles related to rest, balance, and a scripture-based argument for slowing down, and for the freedom to say no to living an overburdened, overtired, and stressed filled life. But choosing a life as a believer postured in a position of rest and why it matters to God. I also share a number of humorous experiences where sleep and I fought, and sleep won the battle!
Q: What does the Bible have to say about rest?
The first mention of rest occurs in Genesis 2:2, "By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done." Even though God's nature is all-powerful, He still established the principle of rest by practicing it Himself. He also blessed the day and sanctified it. The theme of rest is advanced in the New Testament from not only physical rest but an invitation to enter spiritual rest. Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
Q: What are the differences between rest and being lazy?
We live in a performance culture where there is an obsession with productivity and significant value is put on being on the go, being active, and busy. However, based on Scripture, rest is ordained by God. Rest involves being intentional to take a break from work, chores, and/or ministry work in order to repair, restore, and reset oneself for the next round of activity. It can include self-care, spending time with family or friends, and most importantly, proactively spending time with God in an intimate way to reflect and celebrate Him in our life.
Q: How can having faith restore inner peace, and what is the first step to reconnecting if someone has walked away from their faith, or is being tempted to walk away?
Faith is needed to enter God's rest and one needs to believe. God no longer demands it as in the Old Testament, but God now invites us to come to Him. He invites us to move toward Him in intimacy--toward His rest. One needs to start moving toward God. Talk with Him. Pray with Him. Strengthen one's faith by being in His presence and through fellowship with other believers that nurture the presence of God. God's word, nature, and process provide overwhelming evidence of His character to do good for us and not evil.
Q: What suggestions do you have for those who suffer from insomnia?
First and foremost, I believe a relationship with God can help sleeplessness. Sometimes spiritual reasons exist for restlessness, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Sometimes there are medical issues and still we can look to God for solutions through the blessing of medical knowledge. Practical tips can be implemented such as the following:
- Shut down from work or other busy type activities 1-2 hours before bed
- Listen to soft, slow music before-hand
- Keep bedroom free from a television and/or do not fall asleep or sleep with television on
- Do not work, read, watch television, or use phone in bed
- Go to bed the same time every day
All of these are tips that help with insomnia, and some are hard habits to break!
Q: With Christmas coming up, how can people practice rest during the hectic season?
Be intentional. Be proactive. Schedule down-time, family time, self time, and most important--uninterrupted time with God with no distractions, no cell phone, or social media. It takes a new mindset and fresh spiritual viewpoint to turn around the habits and beliefs we've created around rest, especially living in a busy-obsessed culture. Rest is ordained by God!